Non-motoring > Brick cleaner Miscellaneous
Thread Author: Ted Replies: 16

 Brick cleaner - Ted

I have a 1925 red brick house and about 4 yrs ago I demolished a stupid sandstone trough at the front of the house and got a pal at the bike club to build me a nice red brick wall with end pillars and old terracotta cappings, which I already had. It has a feature on the road side in blue bricks....a lovely job.

Now, a number of the bricks are leaching white onto their surface...I think they were ' Elizabethan ' bricks when I ordered them.

So, how do I clean them up? The blues are OK. I've tried brick acid on an extension we built at the back and I wasn't very impressed. I made the mistake of keeping the black Jowett in a garage for a couple of years with an asbestolux roof and it suffered in places from 'asbestos milk ', I suppose it could have been the start of stalagmites ! I think that's similar to the stuff that comes out of the bricks.
I tried all the usual suspects on that and the only thing I found to be effective was rubbing it with a half lemon dipped in salt.....and it took some removing even then !

Any of you big rufty tufty builders out there recommend a good product ?

Thanks in advance,
 Brick cleaner - MD
Can be a bit of a devil to remove sometimes. It is usually just the natural salts leaching, but could be that there was a high salt content in the sand used for the mortar. Weak-ish brick acid and scrub for now. May take a few goes, but may never go if you get my drift.

 Brick cleaner - Fenlander
There's a mid 1990s estate in the village that suffers this problem on loads of the houses... whatever they do it has always come back within weeks/months. I'd assumed it was a brick spec/quality issue.
 Brick cleaner - Ted
Thanks Martin. I'll persevere with whatever I can find. I've got a bottle of Hydrochloric Acid in the workshop...but that'll probably dissolve the bricks.

I had this on the extension particularly badly in one place, it was like a white waterfall !
I ended up painting the bricks at that point with Bondaprimer, which is brick coloured.

It just took the eye away from the white mess.

A 60s house up the road was built with a more ' rustic ' sort of brick.
They had a matching wall built about ten years ago and it's been an awful mess right from the beginning...everything is leaching white.

 Brick cleaner - Bellboy
i always thought it was where bricks hadnt been dried out properly after they were made
 Brick cleaner - Ted

Update, Update .

Well, I cried Wolf on that one.
Decided to have a go at the problem today. Gathered a wire brush, some cloths and a selection of unguents from the workshop and approached the offending wall.
Thought I'd experiment first on the back, facing the house and then move on to the road side.
Started with the wire brush and it darn well brought it all off, apart from in rougher bits where it couldn't get.
Using a rag, I ' painted ' a few bricks with some dirty white spirit and a few with some old Colron wood dye of a brickish colour. Both killed any residual white. I'll monitor them for a while.
If it's nice tomorrow I'll use the wire brush in the angle grinder on the other side and do a little 'painting '

Looks like problem solved and probably non-existant anyway !

Bought a 6 x 4 shed from B&Q this morning. 20% discount today so £87. opted fpr delivery at £20 so it was still cheaper than the original price. We've got too much non-motoring stuff in the garage......" caravan awnings and aquarolls, etc. Folding chairs, garden furniture in winter and , with a new Grandbaby coming in June, there's a trolley and a car seat. It'll keep everything away from the workshop dust as well.

 Brick cleaner - Zero
you have a base for it of course? and a means of keeping it off standing water?
 Brick cleaner - smokie
Been watching this thread as I have a problem with a reasonably new front wall. It doesn't bother me too much but at least now I have something to go and busy myself with when 'er indoorz is getting too much for me one summer's afternoon :-)
 Brick cleaner - car4play
The only thing I used in the past is Disclean. (try googling "disclean bricks"). Basically this is just an acid to disolve any mortar or paint on the face of the bricks. Might be too vicious for what you want though.
 Brick cleaner - Ted

Zego......I'll be putting in a slightly raised platform for it as there is the remains of a large conifer in the corner where it's to go. The trunk was cut down years ago to about 4 inches.
It's about 10 inches thick and I just don't fancy even starting to have a go at getting it out...not with my angina !
Probably knock four of those steel spikes in, weld a framework on and put a decking floor on that. I've plenty of steel box section......Not until it warms up a bit though !
The shed's only light.

I reckon my wall actually might respond well to my pressure washer........but me tap froze up and I've not had a chance to sort that out yet !

It's not a bad idea to save some of these outside jobs for when you can sense a nagging attack brewing up......outside in the Sun, pretending to work, radio on, chatting to passing neighbours and with any luck, sympathetic cups of tea being brought out by the Chai Wallah !

Ain't war hell ?

 Brick cleaner - crocks
>>I reckon my wall actually might respond well to my pressure washer....

I would be very careful about that.

The salts are transported to the surface by the wall drying out. With houses it usually is that the bricks have been stored badly and allowed to get soaked before they are used. But once they are in the wall and allowed to dry out, and the the white salts removed, the problem goes away.

In garden walls the brickwork is exposed to rain from both sides, and particularly from above if there are no adequate copings, and so the problems can be much worse.

By using the pressure washer you may soak the bricks again and re-activate the problem. Dry brushing or minimum use of liquids is preferable.
 Brick cleaner - henry k
My neighbours wall has turned white so I am interested in finding an answer

From Google ---

The salts that cause efflorescence are soluble in water. Hosing with water will cause the salts to dissolve and be re-absorbed into the brickwork, and then reappear when the brick wall dries out again.
Acid or alkaline treatments are not recommended as they increase the salt content of the wall.
The best method is simply brush off the deposit with a stiff dry bristle brush after the wall has dried out. Then sponge the surface with a damp synthetic chamois or high suction sponge. Use very little water and rinse sponge frequently in fresh water.
 Brick cleaner - Ted

Tried the angle grinder with a wire brush but it was too fast and ' blued ' the bricks.
A mains powered drill with a nylon flapwheel did the job but I needed to go over the worst areas with a hand wire brush first.
Flapwheel also good for the mortar joints. I guess the salt hadn't got too solidified yet as it came off like talcum powder.

I went over all the bricks afterwards with a cloth and the wood dye to colour any residual white in cracks, etc.

I wonder if the severe cold has had something to do with the problem as this is the first year we've had it happen. I'll keep an eye on it from now on and see if it comes back.

I'll post a pic of the ' after ' in a minute.

 Brick cleaner - Ted
That's better ! This face is North facing and there's about 1 1/2 inches overhang on the coping stones. It's reasonably sheltered from the prevailing westerleys.

Thanks forc all who posted advice and information.
I hope others with this problem will find it all useful.
As usual, C4Pers to the rescue !

 Brick cleaner - crocks
You've done a good job there Ted.

But I'm intrigued by the "before" photo and the extent of the problem. It doesn't extend to either the top or the bottom of the wall. And there appears to be no significantly increased problem on the mortar.

However with your copings and what look like fairly impervious bricks I hope the problem won't return.
 Brick cleaner - MD
Ted, is that a picture of the new wall??

 Brick cleaner - Ted

It's about 4 yrs old Martin.
I wondered why it was only in the middle....same at the other end, on the left and out of picture.

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